Social Segregation in the Developing World

  • July 11, 2024/

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Third world countries or developing countries, as result of globalisation confronting widening economic disparities in established urban socio-economic groups is now become much deeper and polarized rich and poor group.
This paper aims to particular focus on Indian city Mumbai as example of developing world and its social segregation. India is recognized to be at its peak of economic development. A rapidly developing country placed at 5th position in world as economic giant. Mumbai acts as driving engine of this economic growth. However, this paper is an attempt to do close study to revels ugly truth of economic growth and social structure of Indian city – Mumbai.
Mumbai as mega city performs as magnet for employment, industrial and trading hub, education centres tends to attracts migrants from varying region or backgrounds, eventually leading to overpopulation in city. Overpopulation has various repercussions on city and its life style. This paper tries to assess this trend of migration in Mumbai city.
Degeneration in Mumbai city life is profoundly visible in proliferations of slums or as they popularly referred as ghettos in western world. Dharavi is one of the famous and unique slums in Mumbai. Dharavi routinely called as embarrassing eyesore in the middle of Indian financial capital (Mumbai). But question is evolved, why Dharavi area developed as slums? Major reason behind these phenomena is incompatibility between demand and supply subsequently gives birth to generation of ‘urban underclasses’ with totally different standards and values. Social polarization leads as major reason to spatial segregation as result unrealistic housing prizes.

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Eventually in last decade government introduced many policies and redevelopments plans for Dharvi but every occasion it fails to give desire results. This paper aim to do critical analysis on role of urban planning in redeveloping Dharavi slums, why government fails to redevelop Dharavi since last decades? Could physical land control have ability to reverse social polarization? Could socio- economic integration really achieved in Indian tradition which deeply rooted in class system? Who will be real benefiters of development in current capitalism world? Could good urban design solution provide opportunities to poor social class in new globalized market economy?
This paper structure divided into four segments as follows:-

Social polarization in developing countries – India.
Conflicted urbanism in Dharavi.
Dharavi redevelopment project proposal.
Socio economic integration possible or it is mission impossible.

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Social Polarization and Segregation in developing country – India:-
India as developing country recognized to be at its peak of economic development since independence 60 years ago. However critical analysis of the social and economic structure revels the ugly truth which bizarrely contradictory nature of the predicted economic giant or superpower ( see Garewal 2005). India experiences concentration of high economic development around major centers while majority of the country shows very slow rate of development.
Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai are metropolitan regions acting as driving engine for country. They have historically been known as employments magnets, industrial hubs, education centers and trade cores making them as most developed cities in nation and at same time the most diverse economies.
Extreme polarities between rural and urban areas in nation caused the rural-urban migration phenomena. It always triggers rural people to migrate into most developed cities, in search for better standard of living and employment opportunities. This trend of migration eventually leads to the overpopulation in city; it also contributes to elevated level of poverty, illiteracy and crime in city.
Eventually an underlying phenomena experienced by city is the evolution of dichotomy economies, where informal economic sector is created by low- income groups. Even though employment generating capacity of Mumbai attracts migrants, huge amount of jobs created in recent years have mostly been the informal service sectors. Due to nature of informal service sector employment results in abysmal living condition. Workers those who are migrating from rural to urban areas forced to take up the informal service sector jobs because of lack of skill and education which leads into lower wages, poor standard of living and contributed to proliferations of slums. Thus economy of city flourishes but social and physical aspects of city suffers degeneration.
In analysing segregation there is an urgent need to study and create for the implication of development tools such as zoning, urban renewal etc; and how they define socio economic and spatial pattering of society. Most of time built environment practitioners give significance to spatial integration without considering the structural aspects of segregations. A major reason behind failure in integrative efforts is lack of appreciation of the underlying socio – economic structures of the segregated society.
Gist and Fana observed that city dwellers are independent in their struggle for social position and convenient location in city.
Villaca (2001) considers social segregation as a process through which the upper class control the process of urban land production. Urban land considered as resource produced, yet which cannot be reproduced by human labour. (Castells, 1978),
Treanor (1998) Claims that segregation is beyond planning and zoning. Although urban unity, multifunctional cities, open interaction and classless societies are desirable. He believes that trying to mix different classes together is futile. Surely, this is the only true for society organized along classes.
Conflicted Urbanization in Dharavi:-
In recent years Dharavi became iconic symbol of slums in Asia which is located at heart of Mumbai India. Covering 239 hectares and estimated population between 700,000 and 1 million people (BBC,2006; Sharma 2000). Historically Dharavi evolved from small fishing village that lived on swampy inlet which was fed by the Arabian Sea. Much changed for the kolis throughout Mumbai’s urbanization process. As they began to face occupational displacement during the development of the city (Vora & Palishikar, 2003:173). Dharavi gradually constructed by its citizen through growing collection of waste and debris that effectively operated as in fill on top of the swamp (Urbanoligy 2008:12). As per current scenario Dharavi itself is made up of 85 nagars, all of which distinct character (Patel & Arputhan 2007).Dharavi popularly known as a dirty accompanied by hazardous living condition without basic services. It is partly this – but it much more.
Dharvi is characterized by its intrinsic permanence, multiplicity, dynamism, density, scale and thus find itself at the heart of the challenging and highly contested debate over the present and future of the city.
International developers, bureaucrats, state agencies, civil society and social movements are involved in various confrontations over land, density, typology and right to live a decent life while market pressure and significant government towards becoming world class city as expressed through vision futuristic Dubai and Shanghai like mega scale projects and thus wiping out slums.
Mukesh Mehta (Chairman, MM projects consultants) stated that, If Mumbai was going to achieve its stated destiny of becoming a world-class metropolis, a rival to China’s soaring Shanghai, how could that happen when every bit of open space was covered with these eyesores, these human dumps where no one paid taxes? If India were to become the ideal consumer society, it would have to develop a true middle class-and housing would be the engine. The slums would have to be reclaimed. Such circumstances enlarges window of opportunities for Lefebvrian ‘Right to the city demand.’ Which is not about inclusion in structurally unequal, exploitative and insecure system but about democratising cities and their decision making process (Meyer 2009)
Dharavi Redevelopment project proposal:-
Due to strategic location and the demographic pressure on island city, Dharavi appeared as eyesore for government and thus global transformative goals were set up for Dharvi. Eventually Dharavi redevelopment project (DRP) was introduced as integrated special planning area in 2004. State government hired Architect Mr.Mukesh Mehta. He proposed several physical alterations for Dharvi with a vision substantiated by its artificial and instrumental division of Dharavi into 5 sectors and all these 5 sectors to be allotted to the five different private developers with no reference to existing communities in Dharavi.
At initial satge 57,000 families will be rehabilitated into high rise housing blocks. Each family entitled to 225 sqft of housing close to their current residences with indoor sanitation services. In return, for erecting the free buildings private developers will be awarded with handsome incentives to build for profit housing to be sold out at high market price. Proposal increase the floor space index for region which contributed to higher urban densities; and adaptation of a spatial transformation from horizontal low rise ‘slums’ to high rise podium style typology. Basically replacing informal settlements with high rise developments irrespective of the vibrant economy and society.
Announcement from DRP was issued by Maharastra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in June 2007 and received with mixed emotions. The times of India reported, the initial site purchase bidding was to attract international interest from developers of the highest calibre, with an expression of interest from (EoI) costing 1 lakh, a minimum opening bid of Rs 1000 crore and over 4000 crore to be expected in profits (TNN, 2007). Initial document submitted by Architect Mukesh Mehta was hired by state government in which five developers plan was taken unanimously without any significant call citizens input (Patel & Arputham, 2007).
This massive mega project seems to be homogenous in its aims and modernistic in its vision, thus a grassroots movement has emerged.
Socio economic integration possible or it is mission impossible:-
As megacity and flourishing economy Mumbai population continue to grow it always accompanied problem providing housing to people with good living conditions. So it is argued that high land cost dictate high density developments that cannot support communal service and open spaces for family living. But Charles Correa Belapur project has proven the opposite.
Most great cities were terrible places, but their inhabitants were sustained by the myth, the overall image with which a city’s identity is inextricably fused. The key to handling urban expansion, was not decentralization and dispersal to rural hinterlands, but increasing ‘the absorptive capacity’ of the metropolitan conglomeration (Charles Correa,2001)
The major reason behind vast growth of Mumbai lay in sheer success of its ‘mass transit’ system, the parallel local railway lines running across the north and south tip of the Mumbai which subsidized fares provides opportunities to grow beautifully. Migrants into Mumbai quickly identify sites adjacent to railway lines on which to establish new squatter settlements, allowing them to easy access to their job. Most of the migrants coming to Mumbai for job 40 per cent of them from village population was landless labour therefore giving them housing unconnected to their job is futile. By subsidizing fares in effect you subsidise housing but another vital way of generating jobs is by designing small scale, high density housing that can build by using fairly traditional construction skills of ordinary mason and electrician. ‘Doubling the height doesn’t double the density’, while the open spaces around high rises are wasted. ‘We must know how big the number are’ in terms of dwelling required because it sends adrenalin through our system (Charles Correa, 2001)
Artist village design by Architect Charles Correa is one of the projects of urban housing design solution as open field project which help to make good feet in social interaction in different urban classes; it generates sense of belonging at the same time preserve traditional values and character of the place consequently crate identity of its own in urban era. Designer’s vision and innovative urban solution of low rise architecture and high density planning gives stimuli to concept of low rise architecture with amenities and social integration through housing projects in urban era. The 55 hectors ‘Artist Village’ project of interesting mix of Goan atmosphere and Belapure city culture. Project was built for middle and lower income groups. Traditional building style which had been served from built environment in urban cities. Designers bring back the courtyard style traditional buildings which inherently have communal spaces built within their layout.
Designers deep understanding of the nature of cities reflected in residential cluster modules which are simple in design but relate with each other in complex way. This housing project introduces the quality of life like village but sophistication of the city. Each cluster permits appearance of hyper local community feeling while at the same time each house integrated to the whole settlement at different levels. The hierarchy of entire project is organic.
Artist village aimed to accommodate densities closed to achieve by high rise still providing the environment and life style more closely associated with rural areas in India. ‘Artist Village’ project have small site despite of that architect manage to provide every house with their own private open to sky terrace and shared courtyard. Project was designed by taking consideration of its occupants, such that resident going to alter it many ways, making it truly their own, therefore homes were designed to be free standing so resident can add on to them as their families grow. Another major attribute is houses were priced differently so it can appeal to wide variety of income group.
Mumbai and Dharavi are under microscopic observation and analysis since 1990. An accumulative effort of institution, organization and professionals amplify opportunities for Dharavi redevelopment.
Dharvi as an example of urban mixite as ground field project, on one hand we can say it is informal settlement in Mumbai but on the other hand it is just not informal settlement but it is living, breeding and feeding organism. Urban form such as Dharavi not only provides shelter to its inhabitants but also fulfilled massive amount of economic opportunities to informal sector of Mumbai. Urban pattern and spatial organization of Dharavi is interrelation of activities of its inhabitants. Considering Dharvi inhabitant being involved in day long economic activities and the need of storage of raw material, organization and distribution of goods, climate change are translated in architectural language of buildings in Dharavi. The integration of these grey economic activities makes Dharavi more attractive for even world-wide famous designers.
Most certainly Dharvai is not perfect place to live where lack of sanitation facilities, overcrowded streets, small houses, shelter hardly protect from sun, wind and rain, can be no mean to call it as liveable environment, despite of that Dharavi successfully revels mixite in urban social and economic environment is possible. Environment created by people for themselves where no superior planning strategies take place. Urban fabric of Dharavi shows that shops, workshops, small industries and senior citizens spaces, nurseries, schools, religious places can exist adjacent to each other.
Unfortunately Mumbai city urban planners adopt Shanghai as development model where traffic congestion, migration and increasing population, global economy used as excuses. Architect Mukesh Mehta claims that his redevelopment or makeover proposal for Dharavi integrate slum dwellers into main stream. “If we give them surroundings that are dignified they will live more dignified life.”(AR.Mukesh Mehta Chairman, MM projects consultants) but on the other side slum dwellers thrown out of their homes with one day notice to find alternative housing, rendering close to million people homeless. The government authorities claim that housing in the form of council flats will be provided to residents, who can produce their documents of tenure in the city, hence question evolved for undocumented families. Most of the workers or occupants are landless and serving in informal service sector and undocumented although resident of the city from decades and contributing to success of city economy. Municipal authorities, policemen and politician have connived over the years to build slums and settle migrants to do ‘vote bank’ politics. Such slums demolition and redevelopment project expanding the monopoly of the rich and excluding the low income groups who lack in political and social status.
For better understanding of urban mixite in different geography, we need to get back to vernacular architecture and grass root settlement; we should preserve soul, character and local culture of the city. Urban planner and designers need to understand hidden dynamics behind un-aesthetic façade. We need to study how they tightly packed still efficient to serve and living and working place at same time. New cityscape appears similar with each other and it is difficult to distinguish one from another resulting lacking of input of their localities.
One could argue that Dharavi is in itself becoming a conceptual resource model, representing contested urbanism and slums rehabilitations. Just as Los Angeles and Las Vegas have become urban ideologies, through Mike Danis’s ‘City of Quartz’ and Venturi’s ‘Learning from Las Vegas’; so too has Mumbai (Dharavi) become an international prolific ground for debates and research (Dr.Camillo Boano)
A vision without plan is a dream
A plan without vision is sheer drudgery
A vision with plan can change world.
Adapted from the Mt.Abu Declaration
If we consider city as a fabric then that fabric should interwoven with thread as equity,dignity,infrastructure(transportation,communication,water,sanitaion)quality food, affordable housing, clean air, employments, open spaces, recreational spaces. If we missed out to interwoven any one of thread consequently the quality of fabric will be poor.
Through the discussion in this paper its evident that, any solution offered for attainment of integration should not be overlook social and economic realities. In recent years we see emerging patterns in society towards traditional planning that is inherently inclusive in nature.
More pragmatic approach is essential to change planning theories to create societies that are socially healthy and balanced and whose inhabitants mutually benefits from proximity to each other. Space planners need to carry out space planning meticulously that caters all social class; more and more spaces should keep accessible in planning which promote social integration and assist for sustainable growth.
Neighbourhood need to addressed appropriate socio-economic mix of residents, mix of races, ethnicity and income level contributes to reduce criminality. As urban designers we need to understand that neighbourhoods it just not physical space occupied by the people but its multidimensional spatial and temporal experience produces by communities, individual history and productive activities.
Based on discussion in this paper following are few recommendation to initiates and further integration as it relates to housing:-

Policies should be made to provide more subsidised low and moderate rental units to counter market.
Policies should be made for private developers to ensure that they add low income group units with high income group.
Planning focus should be set in such manner where urban district resident should involve in socio-economic and cultural activities.

Fundamental changes are required to make neighbourhoods more functional by infusion of new building types, new life style, and developments of distinguishable neighbourhoods, integration of living and work places, replacement of problematic buildings with unique buildings.